Health Matters Blog

Japan and Radiation: What should you do?

With the ongoing release of radiation into the atmosphere from the damaged Japanese nuclear facilities, many people are wondering whether they should protect themselves as well as what they can do to protect themselves and their families.  Some authorities expect the radiation to spread from Japan in an easterly direction, to the west coast of the United States, while others state that the thousands of miles between Japan and the west coast, will protect the US population from any harmful effects. It seems very likely,…

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Lying to Your Doctor Has Unitended Consequences

I am a bit naïve. Yes, I am a psychiatrist, a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, and the founder of the National Center for Whole Psychiatry. Given my experience, I should, you would think, know better. Yet I was in practice for probably 20 or more years before I realized that some times my patients lie to me about how they are doing, and whether they are following our jointly agreed upon recommendations. I am prompted to write about this, because a week ago I had…

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Institute for Functional Medicine

Being on the faculty of the Institute of Functional Medicine is a rewarding part of my professional life. On Sunday, I returned from an intense weeklong meeting with other members of the faculty and leadership of the Institute for Functional Medicine.  I’m excited to report that we brought the Functional Medicine Health Matrix (for diagnosis and treatment) protocol to a new level. One of the things that is so exciting about this is that this proceeds from the same structural premise found in THE age-old…

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Nutrition and Depression: Nutrition, Detoxification, and Depression, Part 4

Nutrition, Detoxification, and Depression An additional avenue through which nutrition can help mood disorders is via liver detoxification, which can influence mood via the modification of steroid hormone metabolism (e.g., DHEA, testosterone, estrogen, cortisol). Detoxification occurs in two phases:  In phase one the CYP 450 enzymes are supported by a variety of nutrients (B2, B3, B6, folic acid, B12,Glutathione, branched-chain amino acids, flavinoids, phospholipids). Once these CYP450 enzymes have acted on the lipid soluble molecule, (drug, hormones, toxins), by adding an oxygen, these activated intermediates,…

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Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is the result of infection with the spirochete Borrelia Burgdorferi. It is generally thought that the infection is the result of a tick bite, which about 50% of the time results in a rash, often described as a ‘bulls eye’ rash, but which can vary in appearance. Symptoms of untreated Lyme disease typically include joint aches which seem to migrate from one joint to another over days), flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, body aches, headache), neuro-psychiatric problems (e.g., Bell’s palsy-paralysis of one side of…

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Memory Matters

Memory loss creates fear in the very core of one’s being because it threatens one’s identity, and raises the specter of losing one’s independence. Forgetfulness can be a signal that dementia is imminent, but it can also be a warning that other problems are present, which untreated, may develop into pseudo-dementia (a false dementia). The idea that it is normal to lose memory as one ages is not correct. Memory loss is always a result of some abnormal body processes. In this article I will…

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Panic Disorders: Part 2

Biological Theory of Panic Disorder (Recurrent Panic Attacks)    The prevailing theory of panic disorder states that there are two types of panic attacks, non-phobic spontaneous panic and triggered panic attacks. Nonphobic panic attacks are thought to be the result of abnormal, over- sensitivity of a brain alarm system whose function is to detect early signs of suffocation. This theory is called the suffocation alarm theory. The cardinal symptoms of nonphobic panic are respiratory: shortness of breath, chest discomfort, palpitations and choking or suffocation sensations. Normally,…

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Panic Disorders: Part 1

The Spectrum of Disorders Associated with Panic       Panic attacks are among the most terrifying experiences a person can have. Panic disorders include panic with and without agoraphobia, simple phobia, posttraumatic stress disorder, and perhaps social phobias. The controversy over whether these disorders are closely related, and in what way is not addressed, since the research in this area is inconsistent and inconclusive. The focus here is on the current understanding of the biological underpinnings of the panic attack itself, as well as the psychosocial…

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Do Antidepressants Really Work?

Antidepressants have a role in clinical practice but they are grossly over-utilized.  As a certified psychopharmacologist, practitioner of Whole Psychiatry (Functional Medicine and traditional psychiatry) and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown School of Medicine, I prescribe antidepressants, but  only after a thorough multi-faceted  evaluation of the patient. We rely on drugs as a solution rather than deal with root causes of illness, and the pills generally are not as effective as we would be led to believe by the pharmaceutical companies (publically acknowledged as distorted…

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Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 deficiency and its detection have been in the news lately from the New York Times and The Dr. Oz Show. B12 Deficiency Effects Widespread The effects of vitamin B12 deficiency are widespread.  Vitamin B12 has a major influence on the function of neurons and also on the ability of the bone marrow to make red blood cells. B12 Causes Psychiatric Symptoms B12 deficiency can cause almost any psychiatric symptom—from anxiety, and panic to depression and hallucinations.  This is because B12 deficiencies trigger symptoms…

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